Food Aid Reaches More Than Half of Somalis in Need

Posted October 12th, 2011 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations says food aid has reached more than half of the people in Somalia who need it, but warns that food insecurity will remain a major problem into next year.

The U.N. humanitarian affairs office, known by its acronym OCHA, said Wednesday that more than 2.2 million Somalis have received food assistance, mostly in the famine-stricken south.

However, the office said nearly two million others still need urgent aid. It also said that despite a good rain forecast, “the number of people in crisis will remain high” into 2012.

International aid groups are trying to scale up relief efforts across southern Somalia, parts of which have been declared famine zones after an extended drought.

In an interview with VOA Wednesday, OCHA spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs said relief agencies are still being hampered by Islamist militants.

Insurgent group al-Shabab has banned most foreign aid groups from operating in areas under its control.

Food production is expected to improve in coming months because the rainy season, which is currently underway, is expected to be normal. However, the December harvest usually provides only 35 percent of the southern region's yearly food production.